Ken Hart (ken_of_ghastria) wrote,
Ken Hart

Guilty Pleasures: Christmas & the nutty spectacle of 1975's Marvel Two-in-One 8

Marvel Two-in-One 8, cover by Gil Kane. Copyright Marvel ComicsHarken back, True Believers, to a more innocent time... a time when a superhero comic could feature a satanically powered bike rider stumbling across a ethereal recreation of the birth of Jesus Christ -- and nobody freaked out. Spin yourself round, round, baby, right round to 1975: the year that Francisco Franco died (really!), the disposable razor was invented, Born to Run was released, and Marvel Two-in-One #8 hit the stands.

Johnny Blaze, whose pact with the devil had gone awry (don't they always?), had once again transformed into the skull-headed, hellfire-blazin' Ghost Rider. While riding across the Arizona desert on Christmas Eve, he comes upon -- the Three Wise Men?! Meanwhile, in New York City, Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four sees in the heavens that night... yep, a new star. The Ever-Lovin' Blue-Eyed Thing decides to investigate, which is good, since he was the star of this team-up title.

In this recreated Nativity in the desert, Ghost Rider and the Thing discover that all the inhabitants of "Bethlehem" are Native Americans of a nearby tribe, their minds and their lands transformed by an old FF villain, the Miracle Man! (I do not kid.) To sneak inside the village to stop, um, geez, the sci-fi/mystical recreation of Jesus, I guess, our mismatched heroes disguise themselves as two of the three Wise Men. Yes, that's right, I'm talking about the rocky behemoth and the flaming-skull guy. You got a problem with that, Effendi?

After a battle, Ghost Rider and the Thing defeat the Miracle Man, who is then dragged away by the pissed-off spirits of the tribe's ancestors, and everything goes back to normal, just in time for the real Christmas to begin. So let's see... Satanic hero saving Xmas? Check. Subversion of the Christmas myth? Check. Goofy impersonation of Nativity figures? Check. And for extra credit, gratuitous addition of Native American mythology to the tale? Bingo! I love this story! I love '70s comics! And I love the idea that this story would've fueled 24 hours of outrage on Fox News if it had come out this year!

Kudos to the late, great, demented, brilliant Steve Gerber who wrote the tale, plus Scintillating Sal Buscema on art, with the cool, "WTF?" cover by the legendary Gil Kane, shown here. As good as some comics are now, I miss this period. It was innocent, ridiculous, and fun, in a way that is hard to detect these days, in any medium.

Happy Holidays!
Tags: comics, guilty pleasures, retro-weird

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